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Cycling in General
Member Name: Helenofellon
Cycling in General
Advantages: Get fit and see the countryside
Disadvantages: Other road users
On getting married and having children my cycle frenzy continued. This time I had upgraded to five gears, but still the bike was heavy and cumbersome. Instead of a basket on the front I now had a big plastic yellow seat on the back with a small child sitting in it. My husband and I cycled for miles on our big bikes with big plastic yellow seats and small children, it was a great way to keep fit and the children always enjoyed themselves. As soon as they were old enough they were riding alongside us on their own bikes. We were lucky to be living in Germany and thus the cycle paths and cycle routes made it a most enjoyable time for us all. Unfortunately these children grew to be teenagers and no longer wanted to be seen cycling with Mum and Dad.
But in all honesty I had also moved on and was learning to ride a motorbike, on which I passed my test and funnily enough our children were back sitting behind us on our bikes. It was obviously cool to be seen on the back of a motorbike with your Mum and Dad in the driving seat.
Motor biking is great fun but not the best way to get fit and not so good for the environment. My children eventually left home, they are now both well in their 20's and they both own decent bicycles on which they have travelled miles. So, eighteen months ago I went online and ordered myself a birthday present from Wiggle!
I bought a Kona Deluxe which cost me about £400, I bought it on an interest free buy now pay in 12 months scheme with Wiggle just having to pay a 10% deposit at the time and I think I paid an arrangement fee of about £25. I remember informing my daughter of my purchase and I think she was a wee bit jealous as her reaction was "That's a bit expensive, you had better us it" .............YES MUM! She has since had to eat her words, it's the best thing I have bought in a long time and I use it a lot.
It is a ladies Hybrid bike which is designed for general purpose or commuting on roads or paths which are paved or unpaved and certain trails. The hybrid takes its features from both a road bike and a mountain bike making them great for both commuting and leisure use. The tyres are wider than a road bike, but are still built for speed nevertheless the wider rim allows them to work effectively on trails and gravel paths. My friend has a road bike which is fantastic for speed and she flies uphill ahead of me but she is terrified going downhill as she feels her bike wobbling, and if the surface isn't smooth she really struggles.
My bike has 24 gears which I am still fully trying to master. I am not going to explain the technical aspects of the bike because I don't understand them myself but apparently the type of disc brakes and other little technical nicnacs attached to this bike are viewed favourably by those in the know.
I remember riding my bike one day and a teenage boy shouted "cool, that's a Kona" I felt really hip and trendy but didn't really know why. I have had a look on a couple of websites and found this information about the company who made my bike on Wikipedia.
Kona Bikes is a bicycle company in Ferndale, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. They specialise in high-performance mountain bikes, road racing and touring bicycles. The company name comes from the owners' love of Kailua-Kona in Hawaii. The company was founded in 1988 by Jacob Heilbron, Dan Gerhard and early MTB champion Joe Murray.
Due to their love of Hawaii they started out by naming the bikes with Hawaiian and volcanic names like the Cinder Cone, Explosif Hei Hei (Hawaiian for "race"), Hahannah (Hawaiian for "hot"), Fire Mountain, Hot, Lava Dome and Kilauea (released in 1993 and named after the Hawaiian volcano). Kona also started to use tongue-in-cheek humour in their names, such as Stinky and Coiler. Some of the earliest full suspension bikes were named the Sex One and Sex Two. Those names were apparently discontinued after complaints. However, when nobody complained about bikes called Stab and Shred, Kona joked that violence was more acceptable than sex.
Kona have a great philosophy of listening to their riders and building bikes on need rather than what the market dictates. I must say I am delighted with mine, it is light easy to manoeuvre and comfortable the only problem I do have is with the gear change on my left hand it is quite stiff and I do get a sore thumb if I have to change frequently.
It is really important if you purchase a bike you also purchase a helmet. Having worked as a nurse I have witnessed the results of cyclists not wearing helmets. My son has come a cropper on his bike a number of times and thankfully he always wears a helmet or I think he would be in a sorry state. I know they don't do much for your hair but believe me I would rather have flattened hair than a flattened head!
Other equipment I have found useful are a pair of glasses. I received a free pair with my bike but gave them to my daughter as I thought they were only for the young, hip and trendy not an oldie like me. Two weeks later I bought myself a pair of DHB triple lens glasses which as they say have three different lenses; grey for sunny conditions, pink for overcast and blue for cloudy conditions or if you are like me it depends on the colour scheme of my outfit. The glasses are wrap around and sit comfortably on your head the only thing I am now finding is they can be a wee bit sore on your nose if you wear them for long periods. The glasses are fantastic for keeping dust and bugs out of your eyes. I bought them from Wiggle and I see they still have them for about £25.
Gloves are another great must have again to protect your hands from flying gravel but also from the cold. I have both winter and summer gloves, neither was too expensive.
I have also purchased a cycle jacket and trousers from the Altura Range which are both wind and shower proof. You don't have to buy special jacket and trousers as long as you can be seen. My clothing has night vision reflectors however when I bought the jacket they only had it in light grey which I didn't feel stood out enough. I now have a bright raspberry jacket and my husband wears a high visibility yellow jacket so we can be seen for miles.
My final handy purchase is a camelbak, a hands free hydration system. It is small rucksack which holds a bladder which you fill with water or juice, a drinking tube is attached to the bladder and you place it in a handy position so you can sip away and keep hydrated. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and cost but a lot easier than struggling with a bottle. One tip, do not clean with bleach like my son did and was then violently sick when he next used it. You can buy cleaning products from all cycle accessory shops or I just use Milton.
We also carry a small bag with handy tools and a spare inner tube to be well prepared. I very rarely cycle on my own, I don't commute, it is mainly a leisure activity I do with my family. If I was out on my own and had to change my inner tube I wouldn't have a clue. All my bike care and maintenance is carried out by my husband or son I just jump on and ride it, naughty I know I really should take an interest.
I am thoroughly enjoying cycling again after so many years. I honestly thought I was probably too old and not being the most stable of people (I mean balancing and unsteady not of mind) I thought I would not manage to stay upright. I have been cycling for 18 months and covered hundreds of miles and haven't fallen off once (now I've done it). We take our bikes everywhere. I have cycled in the North of Scotland on roads and trails and down to the Lake District. We bought a trailer for the car so our bikes are a permanent attachment on holiday. I do not cycle in busy cities but some of the roads in the Lake District were quite hairy. Not all car and lorry drivers slow down when they see a cyclist and I have wobbled a bit when they speed past you, I was once nudged by a lorry and couldn't believe that I managed to stay upright. Nonetheless, most of the time it is really enjoyable and there are some fantastic cycle routes around the country. It keeps me so fit, I get lots of fresh air and see the countryside, and you miss so much when you are in the car.
I would love to cycle some longer routes, over a couple of days, such as the coast to coast route from Whitehaven to Sunderland (approx 140 miles). It is something which is in the planning stage at present but I will
definitely do it and might write a review afterwards.
I want to encourage all you guys and girls out there who consider yourself to old to take up a new challenge. Cycling is for anyone, if you feel comfortable with your bike and your equipment, and can stay upright, get out there and enjoy yourselves. I know certain road users do not respect cyclists but then many cyclists do not respect the road. I use the same principles when cycling as I do in my car. I stop at traffic lights, I indicate my manoeuvres, I ride sensibly etc. It's all about respect and having lots of fun!
There are a number of handy websites which I have used for not only my bike purchase but also many accessories.
*****Get on your bikes and enjoy.*****
Thanks for reading
Summary: You are not too old to cycle if I can do it anyone can